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Motivational Continuum

In The Art and Craft of Fiction, Michael Kardos creates the “motivational continuum” that delineates a person’s internal motivation (p.117-119). He notes five aspects of the continuum: Dread, Fear, Expect, Hope, and Dream. He notes that focuses on the ends of the spectrum (dreads and dreams) provide the highest stakes for characters and thus the most interesting stories for readers. To start my revision, I did this exercise for the five main characters in the story I have written.

  • Cadence
    • Expects to be tired by work
    • Fears working in the hospital for the rest of her life
    • Dreads Dawson finding out and thinking (or realizing that she thinks) they made the wrong decision to run away
    • Hopes to restore her and Dawson’s relationship with her parents
    • Dreams of taking over her family’s business
      • Tension: her parents want her to be a nurse, but she wants to take over the family B&B. Thus she could have a CNA from community college to clean anything, but she runs away before being sent to a big school for nursing.
  • Dawson
    • Expects to see Cadence frequently
    • Fears not having enough money to provide for them
    • Dreads losing Cadence
    • Hopes he can make Cadence happy
    • Dreams of starting a family
  • Charlie
    • Expects to be well treated
    • Fears Darlene finding him vulnerable in the hospital
    • Dreads losing Darlene
      • An ironic reversal because he left; he could leave so she does not have the opportunity to hurt him/fulfill his worst fear
    • Hopes to get out of the hospital soon so he is no longer vulnerable
    • Dreams that his relationship with Darlene will be restored
  • Nurse Anne
    • Expects to be busy and tired at work
    • Fears losing her job
    • Dreads her grandkids moving away because the cost of living is too expensive
    • Hopes her income can boost her family’s finances
    • Dreams of retiring and spending her days with her husband and grandkids
  • Mrs. Smith
    • Expects to watch soap operas and get her daily cup of Jell-O
    • Fears being moved to assisted living
    • Dreads not living in her husband’s house
    • Hopes her life at home can go back to normal when she is discharged
      • Tension: she doesn’t want to be lonely like she was at the time of the accident
    • Dreams of her husband walking in their living room and sitting with his arm around her to watch the soap operas like the old days

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